The National States Geographic Information Council
Under USGS Cooperative Agreement No. 4HQAG0108
(Prepared April 29, 2005; Revised October 27, 2005)
Note: This is an interim report, subject to further review and revision.
U.S. Department of the Interior
U.S. Geological Survey
Members of The National Map Partnership Project Core Team Stan Ponce, Chair, U.S. Geological Survey
William Burgess, Principal Investigator, National States Geographic Information Council
Vicki Lukas, U.S. Geological Survey
Gene Trobia, National States Geographic Information Council
Bert Jarreau, National Association of Counties
Kevin Neimond, National Association of Counties
Lead Authors of The National Map Partnership Project Final Report Vicki Lukas, U.S. Geological Survey
William Burgess, National States Geographic Information Council
Gene Trobia, National States Geographic Information Council
Patrick Bresnahan, National Association of Counties
7.1 Appendix A - Core Team Members…………………………………..…….83
7.2 Appendix B - Work group Members……………………………….……….84
7.3 Appendix C - The National Map Partnership Survey Results…..….……88
7.4 Appendix D - Collaboration and Communication Definitions……….….123
7.5 Appendix E - List of Best Practices Model Interview Subjects…………129
7.6 Appendix F - Interview Questions for Best Practices Model Work
7.7 Appendix G - Conceptual Model - Ideal Coordination Roles………...…141
7.8 Appendix H - Map of California’s Regional Collaboratives.……………..145
7.9 Appendix I - Description of Process for Establishing Regional or
Statewide Data Model………………………………………….………..….146
1.0 Executive Summary 1.1 Background Working with its partners, the National Geospatial Programs Office (NGPO) of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is building The National Map as a framework for geographic knowledge with the goal to provide current, accurate and nationally consistent digital geospatial data, and topographic maps derived from those data. The National Map is a key component of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). To improve collaboration between all levels of government and to further enhance development of The National Map, NGPO worked in a partnership with the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) and the National Association of Counties (NACo) to explore partnership perspectives on the program and document their findings and recommendations.
Although these groups have long-standing relationships, two Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) were signed on January 16, 2004, to formally create and set forth the goals of this partnership and to identify particular areas of focus and cooperation. The MOUs demonstrate a commitment on the part of NGPO and these non-government organizations that represent state and local governments to work together to provide seamless access to geospatial data that will benefit the Nation.
To support implementation of these agreements, the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) issued a Cooperative Agreement (No. 04HQAG0108) to NSGIC. This agreement funded the activities and travel requirements of a “Core Team” that managed the project, and four additional work groups established by the Core Team. The Core Team consisted of two representatives from each of the partner organizations with assistance from other NGPO staff. The work groups implemented the work plans for each of the project objectives. The individual work groups were staffed by ten to twelve representatives from the partner organizations, and altogether, forty-four people worked on this project. For 2004-2005, the following objectives were identified:
Determine the relevance of The National Map to state and local government partners.
Develop a "Best Practices" model by drawing from existing partnering efforts nationwide and seeking perspectives at all levels of government.
Examine the opportunities and challenges on a state-by-state basis to develop effective implementation plans and develop measures of success to track implementation.
Identify communication and collaboration mechanisms that allow input from stakeholder groups to be routinely integrated into technical decision-making and program planning for The National Map.
While completing the work plans on each of these objectives, the work groups quickly concluded that building The National Map with state, local and tribal partners can only be accomplished through a comprehensive program that:
Establishes a clear vision for their participation
Makes fundamental changes in the way partnerships are developed
Provides feedback to partners on programmatic changes
1.2 Methodology The Partnership Project obtained federal, state, local, and tribal government input in four ways, including public forums, internal meetings, an Internet-based survey, and personal interviews. The public forums included:
NSGIC 2004 Mid-year and Annual Conferences
NACo 2004 Annual Conference in Arizona
Pi2 Forum hosted by General Services Administration
ASPRS 2004 Conference
GITA 2004 Conference
The Internet-based survey instrument was jointly created by two of the work groups which also identified state and local government organizations and particular representatives that were to be interviewed or surveyed. Survey responses were analyzed and used in the production of this report. The questions were designed to “discover” the level of understanding and/or the perceptions of state, local, and tribal governments regarding the relevancy of The National Map. The survey also provided insights about the impediments to participation in The National Map and the incentives that would be required to ensure participation by state, local, and tribal governments. The surveyed groups included:
Existing The National Map Project Participants
State GIS Coordinators
County GIS Managers and Representatives
Municipal GIS Managers and Representatives
Tribal Representatives and Others
The survey was officially run for a period of thirty-three (33) days from July 23 to August 25, 2004, during which time the NSGIC State Coordinators were also urged to complete the survey in a more broad sense to represent their entire state. The Core Team representatives promoted the survey within their respective organizations to encourage and maximize participation (e.g. NACo advertised the survey to their GIS Committee list serve). Individuals from the federal and private sectors were discouraged from completing the survey since it was designed to determine issues related to state, local and tribal organizations. Three hundred and sixty-nine (369) responses were received by the time the survey was closed for final analysis. The Internet-based survey was designed by the work group members to be applied to their own constituent groups in order to solicit comments on general issues related to the relevancy of The National Map. It was not developed to be scientifically or statistically valid. The survey identified and reinforced generally held beliefs about The National Map program within state and local government.
To help model existing best practices, a series of extensive interviews were conducted to validate a model developed by the cross-sector workgroup against actual conditions. This process led to documenting “real world” successes, desired improvements and necessary changes. The interviews were refined after the establishment of NGPO to address not only The National Map, but to also touch on other NGPO programs and NSDI implementation in general.
The complete series of personal interviews included representatives of successful and emerging implementations of The National Map, and also reached out to states with successful programs that are not participating in The National Map. The work group facilitated a comparison of viewpoints across all sectors by interviewing two to three representatives from different sectors in each state. Regional councils were interviewed to explore their role as key components in the conceptual model. The work group ensured that they sampled a balanced geographic distribution of the nation to reflect important regional variations. Interviews were conducted with representatives in thirteen states, including ten state implementers, ten local or regional implementers, and eight USGS Geospatial Liaisons. To encourage candid responses, interviewees were assured that their transcripts would not be made available outside of the workgroup. Extensive recommendations were developed through this modeling effort and they are available in the body of the report.
The following information is a “cameo” of the findings and recommendations made by all of the work groups.
1.3 General Findings and Recommendations The National Map has achieved a number of great successes relating to the underlying technology and it has also developed successful partnerships that can be used to derive a best practices model. These successes and partner feedback should drive the future of the program to ensure a consistent and viable program. However, The National Map program has yet to create a nationally consistent “foundation” on which to build the program. It previously sought out “low-hanging” fruit to generate quick successes, but this resulted in inequities among the partners, inconsistent interpretations and implementations, and a patchwork of activity at the national level.
In redefining its mission from managing stand-alone data programs to developing an integrated TheNational Map, NGPO needs to identify ways that it can deliver content and benefits relevant to state and local governments. This is especially true now that NGPO includes the Cooperative Topographic Mapping (CTM) Program which is responsible for The National Map, the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), and the Geospatial One Stop (GOS) program. The relationship, future roles and functionality of these programs will impact how state and local governments view their relevance.
To ensure that The National Map is relevant to state, local and tribal partners, NGPO program managers should continue to study and understand the business needs of state, local, and tribal partners. In addition, they need to focus on specific benefits that will encourage participation in The National Map. Since perception becomes reality, NGPO needs to constantly “take the pulse” of its state, local, and tribal partners and review their experiences and impressions about the value of The National Map in meeting their own business needs. The collected information needs to guide development of the program and most importantly, the information and program decisions need to be effectively shared with the partners.
Local governments are the key to the ultimate success of The National Map program. County and municipal governments have the best available geospatial data, because they are developed and maintained to meet their detailed business needs, including currency requirements. There needs to be a compelling reason for them to participate and partner with their states and NGPO on The National Map. Viable partnerships provide a robust environment that will allow The National Map to gain current and credible data from local partners. This is not new information, but to date, USGS has not been able to expend the “human capital” nor offer the incentives that are required to develop these partnerships. NGPO should focus on dealing effectively with these issues to ensure the success of The National Map.
At all levels, we need to develop a community approach for framework data themes, particularly for the transportation, cadastral, boundaries, structures, orthoimagery, and elevation data themes. Moving from the “give us your data” approach to engaging state and local governments as contributors to, and users of datasets, data models, standards, and guidelines will improve the federal position. Long-term planning efforts should be established to document the current approaches used for each framework data layer and to define strategies for moving to a community-based approach. Being effective in this effort will require working together to explore how to address the primary capacity issue of having appropriate levels of staffing at all levels of coordination (statewide and regional). A significant challenge will be working together to encourage and support regional councils as a key mechanism for linking local data with the state and federal levels.
At local and regional levels, we need the participation and support of regional councils for developing consistent data. Where there isn’t a council, we need to build-up regional groups. The USGS Geospatial Liaisons and state GIS coordinators must become well-known resources for local and regional groups to encourage them to participate in statewide coordination efforts. As a facilitator between levels of governments, statewide coordination councils have an essential role in proactively communicating information about federal programs and statewide participation in them, including how local contributions are being used. Geospatial Liaisons must observe, adopt, and align with state and local business needs and practices, and look for examples and opportunities to integrate business needs. They must also adjust to a service-oriented, incentive-based approach that is designed and developed to meet specific partner needs while enhancing the NSDI. This can be more quickly achieved by working toward joint long-term plans between states and the USGS for funding and implementing the NSDI. Geospatial Liaisons need to support and have working relationships with all federal regional offices to promote federal coordination initiatives at the local level.
NGPO needs to “custom tailor” its programs to each state and possibly to the distinct regions within those states. One size does not fit all, and NGPO decision-makers and managers should start using objective evaluation criteria to properly “weight” their various grants and partnership incentives. The “State Information Guide” developed through this project should be routinely consulted to assist in decision-making, and specific feedback from state and local governments should be factored into decisions that affect them. NGPO should also support the recommendations of the FGDC Future Directions Fifty States Initiative and work through the FGDC to help bring the need for consistent statewide coordination to the attention of each state’s Governor, Homeland Security Director, Emergency Management Agency, and Chief Information Officer (CIO). Additionally, when absent or ineffective, NGPO should seek the assistance of these individuals in establishing effective statewide coordination councils to support development of the NSDI.
Geospatial Liaisons should work with state coordination councils to develop specific NSDI implementation plans that are built on the strategic and business plans for each council. This activity will become the base foundation on which the NSDI can be appropriately built. NGPO (and other Federal agencies) should commit the necessary resources to assist all states in the development of consistent plans. The Geospatial Liaisons should also be empowered to work in the local community and be authorized to expend funds where needed to positively impact access to data for The National Map. Through their participation with statewide councils, they will be closer to the local community than other Federal agencies and they will have first-hand knowledge about how to form effective data production and data sharing partnerships. They should be established with base funding for salaries and discretionary operating funds that provide for travel, data production, and data access. The key point in this message is that sometimes, very small amounts of money spent in the right place at the right time can have significant impacts on data access.
The ultimate success of The National Map and other programs of the NGPO will depend on the development of a well-defined, clearly articulated program that incorporates active participation and support by the geospatial community at all levels. NGPO must clearly define its overall goals and objectives, identify the needs and requirements that it will address, and determine its place and purpose in the geospatial universe. NGPO needs to articulate what it can realistically expect to accomplish within the scope of The National Map, considering the financial and human resources available. Partnership opportunities and incentives, including available funding, should be developed, institutionalized, and communicated to the stakeholder community. Ultimately, effective collaboration and partnerships depend on clear understandings of common goals and objectives, shared vision, shared expectations, and mutual benefits.
The message should emphasize an alignment of stakeholder expectations with program goals, objectives, and achievable outcomes. Simply put, The National Map cannot be all things to all people, and it extremely important that NGPO communicate a clear message of what the program is and what it is not.
Communication to ensure participation and collaboration should be consistent and continuous, and include mechanisms for pursuing and incorporating feedback from the geospatial community. The message and feedback should target three specific groups: 1) geospatial data producers, 2) geospatial data users, and 3) elected officials that are each variously responsible for geospatial data holdings. Information gathering from data producers and users includes both the public and private sectors. With this in mind, NGPO should take the following actions;
Establish strong Geospatial Liaison missions,
Pursue formal partnership agreements with state, local and tribal governments,
Utilize the existing USGS network of mapping partners within the states,
Maintain an active communications presence at professional conferences and meetings,
Establish a regular presence in print media,
Provide mechanisms for continuous communication, and
Help to change the way we all do business.
Finally, USGS needs to send a clear message to all other federal agencies that by linking federal programs with common data needs, (e.g. National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) or FEMA’s Map Modernization Program), NGPO can cultivate improved state and local coordination. This will help NGPO to attain additional sources of data for the NSDI through the course of doing business with its partners in a variety of thematic disciplines. A unified federal “voice” will significantly increase the utility of The National Map in meeting the business needs of state, local, and tribal governments.
Working with its partners, the National Geospatial Programs Office (NGPO) of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is building The National Map as a framework for geographic knowledge that will provide current, accurate, and nationally consistent digital geospatial data and topographic maps derived from those data. The National Map is a key component of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). NGPO worked in partnership with the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) and the National Association of Counties (NACo) over calendar years 2004/2005 to further enhance development of The National Map and to improve collaboration among all levels of government.
Although these groups have a long-standing relationship, two Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) were signed on January 16, 2004, to formally create and set forth the goals of the partnership, and to indicate areas of focus and cooperation. These MOU's represent a commitment on the part of NGPO and these non-government organizations (representing state and local governments) to work together to provide seamless access to geospatial data that will benefit the Nation.
To support implementation of these agreements, the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) issued a Cooperative Agreement (No. 04HQAG0108) to NSGIC. The agreement funded the activities and travel requirements of the “Core Team” that managed the project and four additional work groups established by the Core Team. The work groups implemented the work plans for each of the project objectives. The Core Team consisted of two representatives from each of the partner organizations (see Section 7.1 Appendix A) that were assisted by other NGPO staff. The individual work groups were staffed by ten to twelve representatives from the partner organizations (see Section 7.2 Appendix B) and altogether, forty-four people worked on this project. For 2004, the following objectives were identified:
Demonstrate the relevance of The National Map to state and local government partners.
Develop a "Best Practices" model from the existing nationwide partnering efforts and through an iterative review process with all partners.
Examine the opportunities and challenges on a state-by-state basis to develop effective implementation plans and develop measures of success to track implementation.
Develop communication mechanisms that allow input from stakeholder groups to be routinely integrated into technical decision-making and program planning for The National Map.
2.1 Core Team Procedures The Core Team met on a regular basis using conference calls and in-person meetings. Over the first two months, the meetings focused on the project objectives and the products that would be delivered. Afterward, the meetings were focused on progress reporting, work product discussions, project management and the occasional issues that arose from the work group activities. All activities of the Core Team were managed by a consensus decision-making process.
2.2 Work Products This report provides a consistent synopsis of the work conducted by each of the work groups and is designed to provide the reader with a detailed summary of the project. For each of the objectives, the essential background information is presented along with a discussion of the methodology, findings and recommendations. In general, the work groups performed their tasks independently and overall coordination was provided by the Core Team. As you read through the following sections of the report, you will note that the work groups often came up with similar findings and recommendations which help to validate the recommendations being provided. No effort was made to consolidate the findings and recommendations other than in the Executive Summary.
Some of the work group products (“State Information Guide” and Best Practices Model) are designed to be separately used, and due to their size, are not included with this report. Those products, and a “news letter” style article on each of the objectives, are available through the web site for this project that is maintained by USGS. It is located at: http://geography.usgs.gov/nsgic-naco-usgs/partnership/. They can also be obtained through the NSGIC web page located at http://www.nsgic.org.
3.0 Relevance of The National Map to State and Local Partners 3.1 Background In redefining its mission from managing stand-alone data programs to developing an integrated TheNational Map, NGPO needs to identify ways that The National Map can deliver content and benefits relevant to state and local governments. This is especially true now that NGPO includes the Cooperative Topographic Mapping (CTM) Program which is responsible for The National Map, the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), and the Geospatial One Stop (GOS) program. The relationship, future roles, and functionality of these programs will impact how state and local governments view their relevance. Given the task of The National Map Partnership Project, this section of the report focuses only on The National Map.
Many federal, state and local government agencies don’t know about The National Map, nor do they understand why it is relevant to them. State and local governments are in various stages of developing and utilizing GIS. Throughout America there are “Have” and “Have Not” organizations with regard to geographic information systems (GIS). Their knowledge and understanding of The National Map varies greatly and, in many cases, relates to their use of GIS to meet their own business needs. Many local governments (~ 80%) have heard about The National Map, but they clearly do not understand its purpose or believe that it is relevant to them (see Section 3.3).
The “Have” GIS organizations often maintain sophisticated operations that:
Use GIS to meet their internal business needs,
Develop geospatial data at a resolution useful for their own purposes,
Have GIS data which mainly covers their own geography, and
Seldom consider the needs or requirements of other government agencies or groups unless there is a compelling business case or funding opportunity
For many of these “Have” GIS organizations, the issues of documenting, standardizing and sharing their data with others are major issues. These organizations often question the relevance of The National Map, because they have GIS capabilities that address most of their requirements.
The “Have Not” GIS organizations generally:
Have limited involvement with GIS,
Few resources with which to develop or utilize GIS,
Have not developed or utilized GIS to improve their own business processes,
May or may not use GIS products and services provided to them by others, and
Know very little about The National Map
Generally, geographic information systems are developed by governmental agencies to meet their own business needs. However, there are examples of regional GIS partnerships that cooperate and partner with each other to meet their collective needs. Participants tend to capitalize on the core competencies of each partner. These partnerships work when they meet the business needs of each of the partners and benefit their own self interests.The NGPO should identify, participate in, and build on successful partnership models to:
Understand what makes them work,
Incorporate success factors into The National Map,
Provide incentives to increase partnership opportunities in The National Map, and
Adopt a governance structure that encourages success
It is important that the NGPO communicate the purpose and relevance of The National Map and establish effective partnerships with state and local governments to encourage participation in The National Map. The purpose of the Objective One Work Group (referred to in Section 3 as the Work Group) was to identify and document the relevancy of The National Map, as expressed by representatives of state and local governments. This information will help program managers to properly focus their future efforts and make informed decisions about developing the content and purpose of The National Map. Doing so will help facilitate the participation of state and local governments by communicating and describing relevant features of The National Map to potential partners.